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Rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies © Robert Sommers 2017

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sundown at Salk


In retrospect it was very foolish to take a brand new camera on a critical shoot, an assignment that I had thought about undertaking for a couple years. Although the Nikon D7200 was similar to my old D7000, I really had no friggin idea what I was doing and it showed. The evening was a multitude of cascading errors and problems, many of them admittedly out of my control and the work product was marginal at best. Not a massive fail but a fail nonetheless.

From 1959 to 1966 the renowned architect Louis Kahn designed the Salk Institute in La Jolla. The Salk Institute for Biologic Studies is a modernist masterpiece. Kahn had the brilliant idea to create water channels at the research facility that lined up with the solar meridians on the vernal and autumnal equinox, the rays traveling along the waterways at sunrise and sunset.

The problem is that the gates shut at 6 and the sun sets at 7. I called a few days ahead and talked to a woman in the communications department about getting permissions to take pictures of the event. She assured me that if I was there by 6 they wouldn't kick me out and I could take the photographs.

Leslie and our friend Kip joined me and we drove down to La Jolla yesterday afternoon.

We got there and hew boy, we saw a cavalcade of tripods and gear in the distance. This wasn't going to be a private cakewalk, no-siree.

Photogs had been camped out since early in the day and were guarding their prime real estate like a staffordshire terrier guards a veal chop.

I talked to the fifty or so photographers on the scene about creating a little dance routine where we could all rotate and share but they were having none of it. It was every man and woman for himself. I was destined to be off the holy center line.


To add to the psychic turmoil, the security guards were telling us that they hadn't made up their minds and they were thinking of throwing us all out at 6, no matter what the nice lady on the phone said. Unbeknownst to me, they actually locked us into the facility and I had the wrong lens for the job, having affixed my sigma 10-20mm wide angle instead of my nikon 18 -135mm.

I was having focus problems with the new gear as well as exposure problems, I had left the Sigma and Leica in the safety of the van and would have to work with what I was dealt. Didn't have enough reach with my wide angle and tragically locked away from my gear bag. 

Kip got some nice shots. These are some jpegs of mine, when Adobe decides to recognize my new camera I might play around with the raw files but I'm not hoping for much.


I thought it was neat when the ducks landed in the canal. Would I do it again and take another shot at the caper some day, hopefully with proper equipment that I actually knew how to use? Probably.

1 comment:

Ken Seals said...

Nice photos! (for jpgs) :-)